"We have the power of dragons; therefore, we cannot live together with
humans…we have the hearts of humans; therefore, we do not belong with
monsters. We are outcasts in this world, never a part of either community.
And so we live our lives alone, never to be understood by anyone."
- Myrrh, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
My favorite character from Nintendo’s Fire Emblem game franchise is Myrrh, a
manakete from Sacred Stones. In this tactical RPG (role playing game), manaketes are
defined as part-human, part-dragon. If in possession of a dragonstone, they can
transform into an incredibly powerful dragon. Without it, they pass as human.
If you asked me why I loved Myrrh in Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, I don’t think I could’ve given an articulate answer. I probably would’ve said something like: she’s cool, she’s powerful,
she’s part-dragon; her backstory is emotional and that makes me feel a lot for her as a character.
I’m not sure I could’ve articulated how I related to her and resonated with her -- more deeply than any other character.
I don’t think I could’ve said: I know what it feels like, to feel not fully human, not fully dragon.
To have to live in a kind of secrecy.
To be someone that most people are convinced is just a normal girl from all appearances.
I couldn’t have articulated—because I wasn’t yet diagnosed—that my autism makes me
intimately resonate with this half-dragon manakete character.
As I wrote my novel Good Different and decided to make Selah’s special interest
dragons, I thought back to Myrrh. The quote above stuck with me, and I put it
as the epigraph to my novel. As I wrote and edited, I realized why I resonated so
much with Myrrh as a character, and why I selected dragons as Selah’s special
interest. In Myrrh’s quote, she defines manaketes as creatures that are neither
human nor dragon. They have human empathy and emotion, yet are feared and
vilified like monsters.
“We are outcasts,” she says, “so we live our lives alone.”
This is a deep emotion I suppressed most of my childhood as an autistic
girl: I didn’t feel like there was a category for me. I was just a Meg. As a girl, I
largely enjoyed being different. But there were seasons where my differences
made me feel incredibly lonely—especially fifth and sixth grade. There were
years I struggled to really connect with friends, as I found it hard to find people
with shared special interests, or friends that wanted to have deep conversations.
There were also seasons where I don’t think I realized I was lonely. Like Myrrh, I
had to “mask” as “human.” Like many autistic women, I masked so well that at
some points, I didn’t even realize I was masking. I didn’t yet have a dragonstone,
or diagnosis, to help me transform into my truest, fullest form.
If Selah was in Fire Emblem, she would absolutely be a manakete. As I wrote
Selah, her special interest became a metaphor she uses to anthropomorphize
her autism. To others, it might seem scary or weird, but to Selah it’s awesome
and beautiful. She wants others to be able to see and appreciate the dragon the
way she does. But sometimes, the dragon takes control. When she’s
overstimulated and overwhelmed, the dragon takes over her ability to handle the
situation. She might lash out, and unintentionally hurt or scare others.
To take care of her inner dragon, Selah learns how to cope in a neurotypical environment
through sensory tools. With earplugs, fidget toys, and writing, she’s able to gauge
her sensory needs and minimize meltdowns. She’s able to learn how to better
regulate her sensitive system and communicate her limits. I say this as if I’ve
figured it out, but like Selah, I’m still learning. Communicating that I’m done is
hard. Sometimes, my inner dragon gets out of control. Sometimes, I’m back at
square one, which makes me wonder if I’ve really grown at all.
When Myrrh is equipped with the dragonstone, she’s incredibly powerful, easily
able to wipe out most enemies with ease. She has strong resistance. But in other
ways, she’s incredibly fragile at first, with low health points and slow speed
(which feels way too close to my own stats as a human!). To really be able to use
Myrrh in your party, she needs practice battles. She needs to gradually level up.
Her attack has limited uses, so you have to be strategic of when to use her on
the battlefield, and for how long.
Similarly, my autism has great benefits. It also has difficulties and limitations.
I am continuously learning to humble myself and to work with my limitations.
Even when I think I understand my body, or how to take care of it, a curve ball will
come my way, leaving me wiped out, out of nowhere. It takes practice, living as
autistic in a neurotypical world.
But just as I love Myrrh, and Selah, I wouldn’t want to be any other way.
I love being part dragon.
Meg Eden Kuyatt is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature winning poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World” (Press 53, 2020) and children’s novels, most recently “Good Different” (Scholastic, 2023). Find her online at www.megedenbooks.com or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal and Instagram at @meden_author.